Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve loved reading since I first visited the library as a young child and checked out a stack of picture books. My love for writing began when I hand wrote my first novel at age twelve. But I put writing aside for many years to focus on art and raising my family. I homeschooled my five children, and I found that gave me a great education and was good preparation for writing novels. My husband and I have been married for over 35 years. He is a pastor, counselor, and the author of many parenting books. We love our church and we often travel together for ministry and to visit our five adult children and 3 three grandchildren. When I’m not writing I enjoy working in my flower gardens, walking around the lake near our house, and cooking healthy meals for family and friends.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
I will go before you and will level the mountains. I will break down gates of bronze and cut though bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:23
I love this verse because it highlights the power of God to do the impossible and His promise to bless us and show us who He is through it all.
What intrigued you about writing in this time period?
When I watched the British TV series Downton Abbey I became interested in life in England during the Edwardian period, especially life on a country estate where there were not only aristocratic family members, but also many loyal and hardworking servants. I have a good friend and fellow author, Cathy Gohlke, who wrote a beautiful book set in England during this same time period, Promise Me This, and that also piqued my interest in the period.
How did you come up with the concept?
When I attended the American Library Association Convention in Philadelphia in 2012, I had a discussion with an editor about the success of Downton Abbey, and she encouraged me to create a story with a heroine who was a governess and set it in England on an estate like Downton. That got my mental wheels turning. I was hesitant to follow up on the idea at first because I knew it would take a lot of research to create a story that rang true for that period. But Cathy encouraged me and loaded me up with research books.
What is the one thing about you that most people don’t know?
Many may not know our family spent a year in Kenya, Africa, where my husband taught at a Bible college and all the kids attended Rift Valley Academy, a mission boarding school, although we all lived on the station. This was a wonderful, life-changing experience for all of us, and I feel like I left part of my heart in Africa.
Is any part of Governess of Highland Hall true?
I try very hard to get the historical details correct, and that’s especially a challenge for an American who is writing a book set in England in 1911 - 1912. I’m very thankful for two British “first readers” who helped me catch some historical and cultural items that needed to be tweaked to sound less American. I hope the story will ring true for the time and place, but the plot itself is fictional.